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Comment Re: Goodbye, good movie (Score 1) 146

Doesn't copyright law allow transformative works as well as satire?

Satire certainly. If by transformative you mean derivative and I think the answer to that is no, and that's exactly what the movie was - a derivative work using props and replicas of items from the original, which violates the original's copyright.

See Copyright & Copywrong: What are Derivative and Transformative Works?

As far as I can see, it's given us a shit operating system and a bunch of shit low-brow entertainment in exchange for draconian enforcement of bunch of restrictions that no-one really seems to understand.

It's also given us OSS, because without copyrights the GPL would not be enforceable.

Without copyright, I don't think the GPL would be necessary. What would be the point of hiding the source if the executable was freely distributable? Wouldn't someone doing that just be encumbering themselves with the full development costs?

Copyrights let creators decide how their works can be used, and I'd wager much of what is produced wouldn't be absent copyrights.

I'm sure you're right with regards to massively-expensive blockbuster movies. I doubt the world would have missed them if we didn't have them though. I enjoyed Blake's 7 when I was a kid. (I don't recall ever thinking "I'd like this if not for the lack of ludicrously-expensive special effects".) That kind of low-budget entertainment would be within the means of state broadcasters.

With regards to actually useful works, copyright is good at quickly hacking together shit works, which grab mind share, and hinder the development of free works. I'd wager we would have been better off without copyright (if such a wager were possible).

As I've said, the fundamental principle is sound it's all the ways it is implemented that is broken. For example, the extension of copyright to essentially forever which prevents things from entering the public domain.

I suspect the only upside of copyright is that it's slowing the shift to the cloud, which will be even worst.

Comment Re: Goodbye, good movie (Score 1) 146

Xerox willingly gave Apple tours of their technology, in exchange for an opportunity to buy shares in Apple (from which they profited).

Okay, but by the same token, movie studios let people see their movies in exchange for a cut of ticket prices. If showing for a fee imparts a license to copy, then both Apple and movie goers receive this.

In both cases, it's not license to copy but certainly allows you to take the idea and express it in a new and different fashion. Copyright protects the expression, not the underlying concept or idea.

Yes, I get that, but this passage preceded one that began "Besides, you can't copyright an idea.", indicating that these lines of argument were supposed to be independent. If this line of argument wasn't supposed to be independent of the following one, then I'm at a total loss to understand what, if anything, it was supposed to achieve.

There are plenty of "Zombies / Aliens / Animals attack shows and movies but each is a different expression of the idea, and the expression is protected. For example, I can watch Transformers and decide to create a movie about aliens who are on earth disguised as common household appliances and reveal themselves to fight off an evil invader, because that is an underlying idea. No one would mistake my movie for Transformers. I can't call it Transformers or used a copy of Bumblebee or character names, etc.

Are you sure that was the intention of copyright law? Is the Transformers universe an idea, or an expression of idea(s)? (If it is the expression of idea(s), what idea(s) is it the expression of? Is this even a meaningful question?) Would a new story based in the Transformers universe not be a "transformative work"? (The pun's kind of unavoidable, but the question remains valid.)

Besides, you can't copyright an idea. Apple didn't get any Xerox code; they had to re-implement everything themselves, and made a number of innovations in GUIs as part of the process.

Are you saying it's theft to copy an expression, but not theft to copy an idea, and "concept and feel" is an expression, whereas "look and feel" is an idea? Presumably Alec Peters didn't use any Star Trek footage (although ZenShadow says he did use some Star Trek costumes). Also, like Apple, he produced something new.

The difference is Apple took the idea of a desktop and created their own version of, they didn't just make a duplicate of Xerox's implementation. Using ST props, copies of vessels, names, etc. would cross the line between the concept and how it is expressed. He wasn't making a satirical look at ST, which may have been ok, but a drama using material from ST. Like it or not, Paramount has to protect its copyrights.

You completely missed my first point, that he was charged with copying the "concept and feel", which, you seem to agree, it shouldn't be possible to charge him with. Are you seriously suggesting that all he did was "make a duplicate" of a Star Trek story, not make a new story? Really? Doesn't copyright law allow transformative works as well as satire? (Well, apparently it doesn't today. Maybe yesterday or tomorrow, depending on who does it, and how much cash they have.)

Much of copyright law is broken, but the underlying idea is sound.

I'm not convinced about that either. As far as I can see, it's given us a shit operating system and a bunch of shit low-brow entertainment in exchange for draconian enforcement of bunch of restrictions that no-one really seems to understand.

Comment Re: Goodbye, good movie (Score 1) 146

Xerox willingly gave Apple tours of their technology, in exchange for an opportunity to buy shares in Apple (from which they profited).

Okay, but by the same token, movie studios let people see their movies in exchange for a cut of ticket prices. If showing for a fee imparts a license to copy, then both Apple and movie goers receive this.

Besides, you can't copyright an idea. Apple didn't get any Xerox code; they had to re-implement everything themselves, and made a number of innovations in GUIs as part of the process.

Are you saying it's theft to copy an expression, but not theft to copy an idea, and "concept and feel" is an expression, whereas "look and feel" is an idea? Presumably Alec Peters didn't use any Star Trek footage (although ZenShadow says he did use some Star Trek costumes). Also, like Apple, he produced something new.

Apple didn't steal anything from Xerox that Xerox didn't get from Engelbart.

So now you're saying Apple bought stolen goods from Xerox?

This isn't convincing me. I'm just feeling like, if you ask questions about intangible property, you get incongruent answers.

Comment Re:Goodbye, good movie (Score 1) 146

Apparently he was accused of copying the "concept and feel" ...

He didn't just copy the look and feel. ...

I was just going by the article, and in particular what seemed to me a key passage: "the judge found under an objective analysis that the YouTube video, dubbed Prelude to Axanar, was too congruent to Star Trek, leaving a jury to decide whether a reasonable person would find the total concept and feel of the works to be substantially similar." Perhaps there were other charges too, but still, the Apple v. Microsoft "look and feel" case at least seems relevant to this charge.

Comment Re:Goodbye, good movie (Score 2, Interesting) 146

I'm reasonably convinced that Peters was trying to profit from Star Trek, which isn't OK.

You could well be right that he was trying to profit from Star Trek, but I'm not convinced it's not okay.

Apparently he was accused of copying the "concept and feel" from decades old episodes, including "Vulcan ears, the Klingon language and an obscure character from a 1969 episode". The world's richest man founded his empire on copying the contemporary "look and feel" of the Mac from Apple (who copied it from Xerox). That seems a lot like the "concept and feel" to me, so if it's not okay, then I think there's a far bigger issue here. Also, the "concept and feel" in dispute is over 40 years old.

It's not clear to me from the article whether Alec Peters is or was intending to restrict distribution of the resulting work. If not, then I really don't think he was doing anything wrong. Copyright was intended to promote the production of works by restricting their distribution. I don't think it should hinder the production of works that can happen without restriction on distribution, over 40 years later. That seems counter productive to me.

If he was intending to restrict distribution though, then his legal troubles don't bother me. Live by the sword, die by the sword, I guess.

Comment Re:GPL Bullet-Points (Score 1) 176

Below is a summary of what's in the GPL v3 (as I understand it). The summary is organised so that rights are presented as a numbered list, and corresponding responsibilities are listed under each right. In brackets after each line is a reference to the corresponding section, subsection, paragraph, and sentence in the actual GPL v3 (these are all numbered from 0). Hope this helps.

  • Preamble
  • Definitions [0, 1]
  • 1. Receiving a Licence
    • 1.1. License grant is given upon receiving the Program. [10p0s0, 2p0s0, 11p0-2&7, 3p0]
      • a. License acceptance is implied by modifying or propagating. [9]
      • b. No warranty is provided, unless in writing for a fee. [15, 16, 17]
      • c. Additional liability disclaimers may apply. [7a]
      • d. Additional publicity restrictions may apply. [7d]
      • e. License adherence is not excused by other obligations. [12]
      • f. License termination may result from license breach. [8]
    • 1.2. Additional permissions may apply. [7p0, 7p9s0-1, 14]
  • 2. Using the Program
    • 2.1 Using the unmodified Program and fair use are unlimited. [2p0s1-3]
    • 2.2 Making and using covered works is permitted. [2p1, 2p2s0]
  • 3. Conveying Source
    • 3.1. Conveying verbatim copies of source is permitted. [4p0s0, 4p1]
      • a. Licensing restrictions may not be imposed. [10p0s1&p2, 2p2s1]
      • b. Patents, if they protect you, must protect everyone. [11p3-6]
      • c. Technical measures may not be enforced. [3p1]
      • d. Notices must be retained and made conspicuous. [4p0s0]
      • e. Additional names and marks terms may apply. [7e]
      • f. Additional liability indemnification terms may apply. [7f]
      • g. Transfer of control requires transfer of rights. [10p1]
    • 3.2. Conveying modified source versions is permitted. [5p0s0 parts]
      • a. Above terms of Section 3.1 apply. [5p0s0 part]
      • b. Licensing must be available under this License. [5c, 7p1-2, 7p9s2]
      • c. Notices must be included and prominent. [5abd, 7p10-11]
      • d. Additional notices terms may apply. [7bc]
  • 4. Conveying non-source forms is permitted. [6p0s0 part]
    • a. Above terms of Sections 3.1 and 3.2 apply. [6p0s0 part]
    • b. Source code must be made available. [6p0s0 part, 6p1-6, 6p11]
    • c. Installation information is required for User Products. [6p7-10]
  • 5. Conveying Non-GPL Works
    • 5.1. Conveying linked Affero GPL works is permitted. [13]
    • 5.2. Conveying aggregates is permitted. [5p5]
  • How to Apply this License

Comment Re:Resiliency in the face of malicious inputs (Score 1) 367

I don't see why there has to be a single answer to this. There are already laws in place governing traffic flow. Violators of those laws (people running red lights, jaywalkers, etc) should be given lower priority in the "attempt to save" ranking.

I think this makes good sense--we can't decide who least deserves the consequences of a dangerous situation, without knowing who is least responsible for causing it.

That said, I wonder if Mercedes-Benz isn't just being intentionally inflammatory here. From reading the article, I think the suggested response in the case of an inevitable crash might actually just be: stay in the lane and brake, rather than swerve, because swerving could cause more problems. I don't really see that as prioritising the passengers over pedestrians. However I note that the second linked article states that in general people want cars to minimise casualties, but they'd rather buy a car that prioritises their own life. Of course Mercedes-Benz would rather present their cars as those that people want to buy, not those that people would like to exist generally.

Comment Re:A civil matter with a criminal punishment (Score 1) 167

So would you favour scrapping copyright and instead funding all creative works formerly supported by copyright through taxation and public funds instead, like the armed forces and policing and roads you mentioned?

I think the amount of resources directed to entertainment is excessive, so I wouldn't favour the same amount of resources being supplied via taxation. I'm not opposed to some resources going to a public broadcaster or grants for entertainment or something, but I'd prefer to see more resources expended on producing useful material, like decent educational material for school curricula, procedural manuals for small businesses (how to start and run a convenience store, takeaway shop, or whatever), manuals/tutorials for free software, free software itself (static checking source code, online collaboration), etc.

Policy changes should be progressively phased in, to avoid disruption, and ensure they're working as intended. I think reducing the copyright term to 20 years, and rolling back other measures, would be a reasonable start. I'm concerned that cloud computing may lead to a similar monopoly situation that we've had with MS Windows, so I think it would make sense to allow AGPL-like copyleft provisions for longer than copyright generally.

How is the money then to be allocated? Who decides what works are worth and which ones to support, if it is not to be done through the people enjoying those works choosing where to spend their money?

Ratings or appointed executives maybe. I expect something would work, but if it really turns out to be impossible, then scrap it. I don't see it as having a legitimate place as a high government priority.

By whichever measure you like.
No system before copyright has resulted in anything close to the quality or quantity of works being produced and distributed that we see today. The copyright-based economics of creative work demonstrably produce billions' worth of new creative work every year and allow millions to work in creative industries with a viable level of compensation.

No system before copyright has resulted in anything close to the amount of resources being consumed in the production of entertainment that we see today, so it's not at all clear to me that copyright is more efficient than other systems. Creating jobs is not a virtue. The government could create jobs by employing people to carry rocks from one end of a field to the other and back.

Comment Re:A civil matter with a criminal punishment (Score 1) 167

Fair point. Copyright can't necessarily promote both the greatest quality and the greatest quantity at once, and in practice it promotes the greatest overall value, as measured by the money people are willing to pay for the copies.

That's right, copyright can't necessarily maximise quality and quantity, and the limitation on quantity is an entirely artificial one, imposed by copyright itself, not by the nature of what it produces. Your claim that copyright maximises value misses the caveat "insofar as copyright can". With this in mind, the claim amounts to little more than "copyright does what copyright does".

My objection to most of your remaining argument is that it's subjective. You may think the world would be no worse without the big summer blockbusters, but millions of other people enjoy them. You may think smoking has negative value, but millions of other people enjoy it. ...

For entertainment, as with smoking, and fashion (think bell-bottom pants and platform shoes, or mullets and shoulder pads), I think a big part of the value is cultural currency, i.e. not being left out of whatever the people around you happen to be doing at the time. I very much doubt that I would have taken up smoking if people around me hadn't been doing it, or that I would have felt I was missing out on anything for not doing so.

The thing is, we have a much more objective standard for what people find valuable and how much value they think it is: we can look at what else of value they are willing to exchange for it, and particularly what they are willing to spend their limited time and/or money on. ...

This system makes complete sense for "private goods", but far less sense for "public goods" (to use the terminology of economics). Few people would advocate this system for public defence. i.e. the armed forces charge a flat rate, and in the eventuality of a war, those who haven't paid get cast in front of the invaders. Further, if asked, how important do you think people would rate things like a defence force, policing, roads, etc., in comparison to summer blockbusters?

Today, copyright is an economic tool we use to extend those same principles to creative works. Again, it might not be a perfect system, but it does seem to be reasonably effective compared to the alternatives that have been given a serious try so far. ...

By what measure? Value of output, or efficiency (value of output divided by resources consumed)? I don't think any other system has ever consumed so much resources, so copyright certainly ought to produce more.

Comment Re:A civil matter with a criminal punishment (Score 1) 167

Modern copyright is an economic tool. It is an incentive for people to create and share new works, to make those works as attractive as possible, and to distribute them as widely as possible.

More or less. Copyright doesn't necessarily encourage the widest possible distribution though. That would require pricing that everyone can afford. Copyright encourages the most profitable pricing, which is that which maximises [unit price - cost of copying] x [how many people will pay]. That could well be above a price that everyone can afford, especially in a market where people have very unequal means to pay.

I'm not sure how relevant any detailed wording remains if that wording comes from a time long ago, before any of the implications and capabilities of modern technology had even been conceived.

Broadening the aim of a government policy from the lofty goal of encouraging learning to also encompass the rather frivolous goal of encouraging public amusement hardly seems to me like merely "detailed wording", and I don't think "the implications and capabilities of modern technology" justify it.

Clearly that public amusement has significant value, because people pay billions every year to enjoy it.

Bollocks. People pay billions every year to enjoy smoking, and it has negative value, in my estimation. I'm not at all convinced the world would be a worse place for the lack of blockbuster Hollywood movies.

Many people study and work hard for many years to be able to create that public amusement and generate that value.

Yes, copyright causes a great deal of resources to be expended on public amusement, but again, I'm not convinced this is a good thing.

I wonder whether you also feel things like insurance fraud or tax evasion shouldn't carry jail sentences? After all, they're only moving bits in a computer and only big, rich organisations are losing money, right?

No, because there's more at stake in these cases than public amusement.

Comment Re:A civil matter with a criminal punishment (Score 1) 167

... it is extremely likely that those profiting from infringement in that way are effectively stealing real profits ...

Modern copyright was originally intended "for the Encouragement of Learning", not based on a supposed right to "intellectual property". Further, since much of the material being copied is entertainment, rather than encouraging learning, the law is essentially jailing people for the sake of public amusement.

Comment Re:Most software piracy (Score 1) 249

Most software piracy
is for video games, I would think. That's the real issue here, idiots staring at screens while twiddling buttons and yelling at bright images have lower IQs...

I don't know if you're serious or not, but I had a similar thought. I will watch movies or television programs if others are doing so, but seldom seek them out myself. This is partly because I can find some things irritating, which many other people apparently don't. e.g. I (vaguely) remember an exchange between my wife and myself after watching the movie Dragonheart. In the closing scene, the dragon dies and ascends to the sky as a star, to join a constellation that rearranges itself. If I remember right, she asked me if I found it moving, I said I found it implausible, she asked why, I said because the light from stars takes years to reach Earth, and she laughed. I assumed this was because it wasn't something she'd thought of, and therefore it didn't mar her suspension of disbelief or her enjoyment of the movie. (I was going to add that I didn't actually check, but she's just come past, read what I've written over my shoulder, and confirmed that.) To be fair, I guess this isn't really intelligence, but rather specific knowledge, or the inability to disregard it. Also, I've heard Stephen Hawking enjoys Star Trek, and I'm quite sure it's not because the writers are so clued up on physics that they don't make mistakes he would notice. Anyway, just my 2c.

Comment Re:WTF? (Score 1) 760

If we were to accept that any extension in testing were bad, and any reduction in testing were good, then it would follow that drug testing only black unemployed people would be better than drug testing all unemployed people, but I think (hope) it's obvious that this would actually be worse.

No, it would in fact actually be better because it would be cheaper and impact fewer people. The racism in the selectivity of the reduction is on just you. Just as the bigotry of testing those in poverty vs anyone getting a tax credit/deduction or benefit of a government program is on those who made that decision.

My feeling is that it would create more animosity between people, and disrespect for the law generally. Those people who were disadvantaged would have fewer allies to seek change. If the situation persisted long enough, I think some people may even come to believe it was the right thing to do. Think about DC voting rights, and whether there would be many people advocating against equal DC voting rights if not simply for the fact that DC residents don't currently have them. I think all this would outweigh any positives.

Also, I find your allegation of bigotry puzzling, since I wasn't actually advocating for this (I thought that was clear).

Comment Re:WTF? (Score 3, Interesting) 760

Extending such a screwed up program to more people doesn't make things better, it makes things worse.

I'm not sure about that. I think it would make things more equal, and in that sense it would be more fair. If we were to accept that any extension in testing were bad, and any reduction in testing were good, then it would follow that drug testing only black unemployed people would be better than drug testing all unemployed people, but I think (hope) it's obvious that this would actually be worse.

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